Used 2000 Plymouth Neon Review

Edmunds expert review

Even though it's been redesigned, the Neon retains strengths such as its spunky attitude and weaknesses such as a lack of powertrain refinement - - the optional automatic tranny is still a primitive three-speed unit.




What's new for 2000

Side-impact airbags and leather seats are now available in Plymouth's economy car. If you've got a hankering for the Plymouth nameplate, act fast; as of 2002 Plymouth will be closing shop and subsuming its identity to the gods of DaimlerChrysler.

Vehicle overview

DaimlerChrysler is billing the current-generation Neon as "quiet, sophisticated and still a lot of fun." Fun seems to be the catchword for the Neon. It's used repeatedly by the manufacturer including, "fun-to-drive handling and steering" and "fun-to-drive attributes." Its maker obviously wants people to know that while the Neon has grown up, it hasn't grown old. It's probably worthwhile for them to stress the fun factor, since the coupe version has been absent since the 2000-model-year redesign, meaning that a four-door sedan will have to suffice for all those economy car thrill-seekers out there.

While a fun factor still exists when piloting the Plymouth Neon, the "quiet, sophisticated" aspects are nowhere to be found. The standard 132-horsepower 2.0-liter inline four received improvements to the air induction and intake manifold systems last year to provide torque over a broader rpm range, but the powerplant still makes too much noise at high rpms.

A word of advice: make sure you stick with the standard equipment five-speed manual transmission. Plymouth has the cojones to charge $600 for its lame-ass and out-of-date three-speed automatic while the cheaper Hyundai Elantra and Daewoo Nubira offer four-speed autos. Whatever.

With a refined suspension that offers plenty of wheel travel, the Neon's ride is smooth, and it's further enhanced with premium shock absorbers and rear sway bars. The power rack-and-pinion steering and precisely tuned suspension also contribute to the Neon's cruising quality while making it an absolute blast when canyon carving. Stopping power comes from a front disc/rear drum combo, but buyers may want to opt for four-wheel discs with ABS and traction control.

We genuinely like the Neon's exterior features that include jewel-like headlamps, a sleek roofline, and large tail lamps. With a long wheelbase and wide track, the Neon also offers exceptional interior room and a stable ride.

Items like a radio/cassette combo and four Big Gulp-sized cupholders are much appreciated, yet overall feature content is still lacking. You can't even get power rear windows or cruise control as standard equipment. New options for 2001, including side-impact airbags and leather seats, have somewhat expanded the Neon's feature list. We also give Plymouth credit for creating an attractive cabin with available white-faced gauges and a swoopy dash that appears very upscale.

Unfortunately, competitors like the Ford Focus, Mazda Protege and Nissan Sentra offer more bang for the buck in terms of both refinement and content while still providing enthusiasts with a fun-to-drive car. We bid a fond adieu to Plymouth.






Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.